Successful Socialism

For those who do not know, I have always preached that socialism is a colossal failure, and that capitalism is a spectacular glorious success. Capitalism creates and spreads wealth, and socialism creates and spreads misery.

The pilgrims experimented with socialism in the 1600s. It failed. They then tried capitalism, and lo and behold, it worked. This has been the case with both philosophies in the ensuing 400 years.

Yet I am forced to admit by the overwhelming evidence in front of me that there is one aspect of society where socialism has succeeded. The National Football League is a socialist model, and it works.

Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens Owner Art Modell once remarked that the NFL Owners were “32 republicans who vote socialist.” He also ruefully remarked that, “The President can bomb a nation with a simple bare majority, but NFL Owners need a 3/4 majority to go to the john.”

One does not need to understand anything about football itself to understand the NFL business model.

First of all, the league has a unique revenue sharing arrangement. Revenues from the ticket sales to the games are split equally between all 32 teams. Additionally, the NFL makes most of its money not from people attending the games, but from television. The NFL has a multibillion dollar television contract, and that is also split equally between all 32 teams.

The ramifications of this revenue sharing is that small market franchises such as the Green Bay Packers can compete with large market franchises such as the New York Giants.

There are some chinks developing in this model, but they are being dealt with. Revenue from luxury boxes is not shared equally, but in due time every franchise will have luxury boxes, nullifying that advantage. Also, some franchises, such as the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, have owners who own not only their teams, but the stadiums those teams play in. This is critical with regards to advertising revenue. If the NFL has an official contract making Coca Cola the official league beverage, no team can promote Pepsi. However, while Jerry Jones as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys cannot promote Pepsi, Jerry Jones as the owner of Texas Stadium can.

However, even if some owners make more than others, the NFL has one other element of socialism that works…a hard salary cap. Each team is allowed to spend the exact same amount on players. There is a minimum that must be spent, since some owners would prefer to field losing teams in order to line their pockets. The minimum forces them to try and compete. The maximum forces teams to make hard choices. Individual players can still earn astronomical salaries, but at the expense of their teammates. The term “capanomics” refers to teams that try to temporarily circumvent the cap using creative accounting methods, but when that credit card bill comes due, teams have a fire sale known as “salary cap hell.”

Major League Baseball is raw capitalism. Several years ago, the New York Yankees had a player payroll of 200 million dollars. The Montreal Expos had a player payroll of 9 million dollars. You read that correctly. Why should someone play for one million for the Expos when the Yankees would pay 20 million? The result is that the Yankees are perennial contenders for a championship, and the Expos now cease to exist.

The main issue then becomes why this is all relevant. How can one endorse capitalism in business yet endorse socialism in professional sports? Isn’t this hypocritical?

No it is not. The ultimate goal is successful ventures. One cannot have liberty and equality. They are in direct conflict. In American society, especially in business, liberty is the key. The profit motive is a powerful incentive. People do not want to work harder unless they believe they will be rewarded more for that hard work. If I can get the same pay as my neighbor for doing less work, perhaps personal pride or ego would allow me to work hard. However, if I choose the lazy route, my neighbor has no recourse.

In professional sports, equality is the key to success. Some mistake the NFL for being obsessed with parity, aka mediocrity. However, the correct phrase is not parity. It is competitive balance. Parity would mean having each team finish around 8-8. This is the type of socialism that destroys most societies. Competitive balance is what brings the phrase “any given Sunday” into the American lexicon. An 0-6 team can go on the road and defeat a 6-0 team. Every week in the NFL something like this happens. The 1998 Rams went 4-12. The 1999 Rams won the Superbowl. The irregular becomes the regular in the NFL. Mismatches on paper become shocking upsets, as ESPN uberannouncer Chris Berman reminds us that, “That’s why they play the games.”

So why can’t the rest of the world take socialism and make it work the way the NFL has?

The answer is that the world does not have an undisputed governing body to enforce regulations and punish cheaters. It is why the Kyoto treaty went down in flames. It is why the European Union, filled with socialist nations, is failing. The stronger nations do not want to be dragged down by the weaker nations. One can argue that the stronger nations could lift up the weaker nations, but if even socialist countries do not believe this will work, what does that say about socialism itself?

The NFL has two powerful elements. The first is labor peace. The unions and management work together on many issues. There has not been a work stoppage in two decades. Gene Upshaw, the head of the NFL Players Association, often testifies side by side with the NFL Commissioner on league matters. They socialize together. Brinksmanship is rare, and getting a deal done to ensure labor peace is paramount. It helps that the revenue sharing agreement forces owners to be united. Contrast this with baseball where the owners have incentives to cheat each other, so they do. Negotiations between the players and owners makes Fallujah look like a walk in the park.

The second element of the NFL is a strong commissioner. For the last four decades, from Pete Rozell to Paul Tagliabue to Roger Goodell, the NFL has had a commissioner whose word was and is law. Any player or owner that breaks the rules is punished, often severely. Michael Vick was one of the greatest players in the league. He broke the rules, and was suspended from the game. Bill Bellichick is one of the greatest coaches in the league. He broke the rules, and was fined and docked draft picks. Nobody is above the game of football itself. Some would consider the commissioner authoritarian, but the leader of the NFL can be fired. Also, the leader of the NFL cannot use the military to crush dissention.

The main reason socialism fails is because for it to succeed, everybody in the collective must buy into it. Money and other perks are given up in the present for a brighter day in the future. Since past experiences prove this brighter future to be a fraud, skepticism sets in as people begin to see the benefit of cheating. It has failed in the past, so people believe it will fail in the future, therefore it is sabotaged in the present. To try and ask people to ignore history and have blind faith in a system that has never succeeded is to ask people to go against human nature.

However, the NFL has a history of financial success. Owners may grumble from time to time about sharing revenues, but deep down they all believe in the system. There is simply so much wealth that the idea of jeopardizing that golden goose is heresy to owners that even briefly consider it.

The only criteria in judging a system should be results. Intentions are worthless. Results, in the form of metrics, are what matter.

The world should embrace capitalism because it works. It is often described as the worst system except for every other one. It is why France, Germany, China and virtually every other nation previously mired in economic stagnation, bureaucracy and mediocrity wants to try some form of American style capitalism.

Capitalism should be the order of the day in business because it has succeeded where socialism has failed, which is virtually everywhere. Where liberty is paramount, which is again virtually everywhere, socialism should be reduced to the ash heap of history.

May the National Football League be the one place on Earth where socialism is allowed to reign supreme, because it is the one place where equality is the desired result, rendering the universally disgraced philosophy a complete success.

eric

18 Responses to “Successful Socialism”

  1. Jersey McJones Says:

    Great post. Pete Rozelle is like a God to me. His legacy is the greatest sport on Earth.

    JMJ

  2. Matt Says:

    I liked the post except for this fact:
    I’m a stickler for English and you kept saying “between all of the teams.”
    When two elements are involved, “between” is correct. When three or more are involved, “among” is used.

    Just FYI

  3. micky2 Says:

    Team I Team I Team I Team

    I am between all the teams ?

  4. micky2 Says:

    I’m sorry if that last line was a little frivolous, but the grammar police annoy me.
    I understand that Matt means well and that is all. But in quite a few debates that I’ve had , whenever my opponent is taking a dive he starts poking fun at or correcting my grammar, Its their ( usually women) last chance to prove me wrong at something.
    But previously during the whole debate they had no problem understanding me.

    I mean if you use your salad fork to eat your steak, will your steak taste like sald ?

    Eric, you have to be careful what you post.
    The left will read this and start getting ideas. Next thing you know every state will have its own quarterback in congress and we’ll all be eating granola.

  5. Carole Says:

    Aw, c’mon Mickster….give Matt a break. He could be like me…one of those teacher types…for whom grammatical errors are a major distraction…or is that, for who….

    ;-> Luv ya, buddy!

  6. micky2 Says:

    I know Carole, I dont take myself too seriously. But I had to say it.
    Some guy last week came after me for my inappropriate use of apostrophies.(notice I didnt use one there)
    We were debating the validity of threats by radical Islamists and out of nowhere he starts bashing my typing skills and grammar. I was dumbfounded how this even mattered at that point in our conversation/arguement.
    What is embaressing is that I spelled “salad’ wrong in my last comment while going after Matt.
    Time for me to shut up and go home.

  7. Carole Says:

    Alright….alright…I admit it!!! I don’t understand what anyone has against capitalism! I live here in the most innovative, economically successful and giving of countries ….the super power in the world….that has become that way because of capitalism, for one thing, and I TRULY innocently, simply – just threw that in for you, J – DO NOT get it! This IS the land of opportunity in which ANY one that wants to do what works CAN succeed! Yes, Virginia, that is ANYone. And what of the poor? There are all kinds of programs in place to help that as well, NOT TO MENTION, the private providers for those, and the unsung heroes that daily demonstrate America’s compassion for those ‘less fortunate’. I’ve gotta argue with that, as well! To live in this country means you are not a slave to fortune, or luck! It means you can achieve your own success! You HAVE the opportunities! You HAVE the God given choice and you live in a freedom loving country!

    Oops….got off the subject a bit. So, really…what’s the beef with capitalism?

  8. Carole Says:

    And speaking of the EU, g….what is your take on the NAU that W appears to endorse? My initial reaction is shock and alarm! Maybe a column on that soon?

  9. Blogmasterpg Says:

    Hi; do you remember me? I’m writing from Italy. Your posts are very interessants, buut too many longs! Expecial for me ( a non-english reader ) it’s very hard to read all and to understand aoo 2what you want to say… I take a tip to you: open a new Blog and add in the same pot, but only the principals things; a resume-Blog of that one.. I know now in U.S. there are many ispano-speakers and most of them read english but not very well:I think my proposal is not totally stupid. Good bye and God bless you!

  10. micky2 Says:

    Does this gentleman want Eric to post in Spanish or Italian ?

  11. Alan Says:

    Hello Eric,
    Loved this. Clear and understandable thru and thru. Also entertaining. Truth is Truth and it that is all. The lie can always be found if you have the will and the desire to find it. Hitlerl was was wrong. If you tell a lie enough it will become truth. That can work but if their are people who want to find the truth sooner or later the truth will be found. As is the case with WWII Germany we have found the truth and are finding more all the time. It took people from that time all the way to this time to make it happen. Let us never lose the desire to find the truth!

  12. totaltransformation Says:

    Been watching football for many years and I didn’t know any of that.

  13. Lord Nazh© Says:

    What the hell are you doing making a legitimate post on the success of the socialist model?

    :) Nice post Eric, remember human nature is taken out of the NFL model completely, about the only way for socialism/communism to work.

  14. chach Says:

    I LOVE reading the posts from yous guys and gal; (youz guys?) (er, um, yiz guys?), oh what the heck! I’m sorry, that’s just the Jersey boy in me speaking ( er typing ). I love to hear, and read English spoken correctly, as most of yiz do, but I ain’t no stickler for it though. ( Sorry blogmasterpg; I am not writing in proper English because I am just teasing the other writers.) I have taken too long to get to the point of this letter though; and it is to condemn Socialism in the larger scope of governing countries, and therefore its’ citizenry. My one qualifying factor is to have been born to Cuban parents in 1957 and so hearing from them ,how Socialism destroys a persons’ will to succeed and accomplish anything of relevance; because there is no reward to do so. The lazy individual who does nothing, receives the same accolades as the one who works to exhaustion. Socialism serves only to rob individuals of their very soul, all in the name of the collective good ” of the people” Hey, blogmasterpg; if you have time, you may want to look at videos of Fidel Castro and Mussolini in a side by side comparison; and you will see such similarities between them, because Fidel was said to idolize Mussolini. (the source of that info excapes me but I believe it was the History Channel here in the USA, many , many years ago). For all I can remember , it could easily have been Dan Blather;( er sorry;) Dan Rather, narrating because of the tone of admiration for Castro. Now as for the socialist ideal surviving and/or thriving in the NFL; I refer to Erics’ comment that the commish (yet another Jersey-ism, dammit) cannot use the military to enforce its’ rules; just the fact that any one franchise not willing to play along will simply not be allowed to share in the riches either. Even my beloved AL DAVIS can’t get away with every thing he wants ( sorry about the “beloved” remark there Eric! ) Okay, so maybe not the modern day Al Davis ; it’s the one from the Jurassic period of the NFL that I admire. =). In the realm of Capitalism, I can work harder or smarter in an effort to earn more money to purchase either a single ticket, or season tickets to any NFL team I so choose. Socialism would dictate that I work even harder so that my comrades of the state be able to modernize the stadia to entertain dignitaries of other socialist sister countries. So in summation; lady and gentlemen of this blog of Erics’ that we’ve come to admire ; Socialism sucks, and Capitalism is good!

  15. Craig Says:

    “Major League Baseball is raw capitalism. Several years ago, the New York Yankees had a player payroll of 200 million dollars. The Montreal Expos had a player payroll of 9 million dollars. You read that correctly. Why should someone play for one million for the Expos when the Yankees would pay 20 million? The result is that the Yankees are perennial contenders for a championship, and the Expos now cease to exist.”

    Not entirely Eric. Any MLB team that has a payroll above $100 million, has to pay a luxury tax. The Yankees, and Red Sox pay a huge luxury tax for every dollar above the mark. (~75%) That tax money is dispersed equally to the other teams. Money that help teams like KC and Pittsburgh. So there is socialism- even in baseball.

  16. r Says:

    the european union is a socialist failure? maybe you should let them know with the euro costing a $1.46. the post best illustrates that capitalism isnt the answer to all problems just like socialism isnt the answer to all problems either. its not black and white and that simple like many conservatives seem to like EVERYTHING to be so they can act like they understand the world and convince themselves that they alone have all the answers and call everyone that disagrees a stupid hippie leftwing america hating moonbat blah blah blah.

  17. gkn Says:

    There is one aspect of NFL socialism that you ignore here – the shameless way that NFL teams sponge off the taxpayer. According to statistics from the California legislature, the American taxpayer has stumped up $4 billion to subsidize new stadiums since 1992.

    I remember when I lived in San Diego in the 1990s – whenever the attentance at a Chargers’ game was below 60,000, the local taxpayers had to make up the difference. Un-bloody-believable, especially to a socialist pantywaist Limey like me. Maybe the Chargers could have guaranteed their revenue by, oh, I don’t know, playing well enough to attract fans to the stadium? Or was that asking too much of the poor dears?

  18. Brett Favre Economics | SwiftEconomics.com Says:

    [...] see, the NFL is socialist. That’s right, the men of the gridiron are a bunch of pinko commies. Unlike Major League [...]

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